INDEPENDENT NEWS

Targets overlook the 174000 children living in worst poverty

Published: Wed 22 May 2019 05:36 PM
Child Poverty Action Group is pleased to see the Government set ambitious 10-year targets for child poverty reduction, but we are disappointed not to see a target set for improving thousands of young lives where the worst of poverty is found.
Moreover, the three-year targets amount to a slow shift that will not have nearly enough of an impact for children.
"The Government must heed the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s recommendations for improving income adequacy - especially where poverty is the deepest," says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics advisor.
"If we are to see substantial changes in children’s life outcomes - for this generation and the generations to come - then the foundations must be strong. At the moment, the house is built on sand."
CPAG says that the Government is placing too much faith in its Families Package, which didn’t help children living in households where primary income is from a main benefit nearly enough.
"While the Government has set a target to reduce the number of children in households with less than 50% of median after housing costs (AHC) income by 40,000 from 254,000 to 214,000 by 2020/21. What about those 174,000 children whose household incomes are below 40% AHC?" asks St John.
"The 40% AHC measure is only a supplementary measure. As was our concern, it just doesn’t appear to be a core focus in the targets Government is setting. Reducing child poverty for these worse off children will only happen if core benefits are lifted substantially and they get the full Working for Families package. Government has ruled out benefit rises pre-election and has not shown any sign of fixing the flaws in Working for Families."
"These are the children with the greatest level of need, and are most at risk of poor life outcomes. If we fail to look after these children - the poverty cycle will remain intact."
CPAG says that there’s no such thing as the right time for changing policy settings that will make thousands of children living in poverty better off.
"There's only either right now, or letting things get worse before they get better, which will mean families falling further behind and falling deeper into debt," says Associate Professor Mike O’Brien, CPAG’s Social Security spokesperson.
"We need to ensure that the Prime Minister is able to fulfill her dream of ending child poverty in New Zealand by ensuring that she has wrap-around support and advocacy from all areas to get these goals across the line - and she needs the full support of her Ministers to achieve it.
"We are looking to the Budget for policies that reflect the recommendations in the WEAG report," says O’Brien.
"The first of the announcements concerning Welfare are timid at best. We hope that Budget 2019 will yield a more fruitful way forward for our most vulnerable people."

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